Home labs for extracting cannabis concentrates seen as emerging public safety threat

BIDDEFORD — First responders and code enforcement inspectors have come across dozens of marijuana plants growing legally in apartments and houses across the city. But in late April they came across something new – and potentially dangerous – while putting out a fire in a downtown apartment building.

In the kitchen of a third-floor apartment sat a large metal cylinder filled with marijuana, attached by tubes to tanks of butane and refrigerant. The owner of the equipment was using it to illegally manufacture butane hash oil, a concentrate used to make a variety of products that are increasingly popular with people looking for alternative ways to consume cannabis.

A small leak in the tube and a single spark could have led to a flash fire and devastating consequences, said Roby Fecteau, the city’s code enforcement officer.

“If that fire had spread to the third floor, it would have been bad. It’s very, very

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